Choosing Decision Making
So What Would YOU Choose?
Which ice cream would you pick? Maybe you could eat all four. What if there were 8 or 16? Sometimes, we have to choose what to do because we can’t always have everything. If we have several options and they are all fairly alike, how to we decide which one to do and in which order? For some people there would be no choice. They may not like or be able to eat ice cream. But the same types of decisions are needed for almost anything.
Some possibilities are more highly regarded than others. In terms of ice cream, perhaps chocolate in any form is always preferred? Some courses of action are preferred over others. Perhaps walking away or maybe choosing one and saving the others in the freezer? There can be many choices: many courses of action. How do you pick a winner?
We all have to make decisions all the time. Some are trivial like which ice cream, though for some people that can be a life-changing decision if perhaps you are allergic or diabetic. There are also life-changing decisions like who to marry (or not), where to study or whether to start a business. Try watching the video and see whether you would survive – or not!
Decision-making is often an unconscious choice based on our values, beliefs and preferences. It can sometimes be life or death, such as if we are driving a car and have to choose the speed to approach a corner. These are the kinds of choices we have to make quickly and automatically, where we rely on mental shortcuts we learned from past situations or developed over the years.
Some times, choosing is a long agonizing process. Which ring (of several) should we choose, which bit of housework should we do first (they all need done).
Some of the things that make it harder to decide can include missing information, stress from urgent deadlines, and not enough resources. Stress can make it hard to make a decision. Our emotions and preferences can affect our decision making process. When we have to choose how to make a hard decision, we often are influenced by our prejudices (men don’t do housework), memories (my mother used to do this for me) and emotions (feeling sad, or the last time I did this, this particular thing happened).
Paralysis By Analysis
If you have to choose one of several possibilities, all of which are similar in terms of length of time to do, their importance or urgency, it can be difficult to choose which to do first and that can waste your time. Sometimes it is best just to make a decision – go for this one – work on it, complete it and then choose the next. If you only have two choices, flip a coin and go with the one that the coin indicated. If you find yourself dithering between which project of several similar ones to start first, a coin is not as easy, so then try this.
Lay out the projects in front of you, you could use sheets of paper with a title on each one, representing the project. Then use any of your old children’s choosing rhymes, you know, the ones where you chose a companion for your team. Ones like, “Eeny meeny miny mo”, or “Each peach, pear, plum, I choose Tom Thumb”. Point to each project in turn while reciting the rhyme and pick the one your finger lands on.
HERE’S THE IMPORTANT PART
If you pick a project and think, “Great, I’ll get stuck into this.”, then fine, get on with it and when it’s finished, choose another.
BUT, if at the point where your coin flip or counting rhyme indicates one project and you immediately have the feeling that you should flip the coin again, or do the counting rhyme again, then put that project to the side. With only two projects, then you start on the one that’s left. With several projects, do the counting rhyme of your choice again, leaving out the one that was chosen the previous time.
Often, our unconscious knows which one is most important or easiest to get stuck into or which one will give us the best “win”. You do not have to go with what the coin or rhyme picked out for you. It it feels wrong at this moment, then choose again.
What If There Are No Choices Left?
It is possible that you don’t want to do any of the projects. After all, if it’s a choice between doing the laundry or washing dishes, neither might be appealing. But they may HAVE to be done. In this case, use the coin or counting rhyme and don’t allow yourself any slack. Most of these kinds of tasks are done a lot more quickly than it takes to moan about them. Just get stuck in, you’ll be surprised how fast they can be done if you just do them. If you have several projects that all have to be done, then choose one and spend 15 minutes on it. Then stop that one and spend 15 minutes on the next. Keep doing this until you have completed some or all of your projects. If this is a long job, allow yourself a few minutes to rest each hour and make sure you drink water.